I hope these 10 tips to be a great startup help you get started or keep moving with your brilliant ideas:
1. Have a story
Who are you? What are your passionate about? what are your goals? What must happen with your startup existing? These are questions everyone you ever pitch your idea to will ask you so you must be ready to explain your startups existence without reading your notes. Your team must also be a part of the bigger picture you want to paint, which brings me to the next point…
2. Have a strong team
Teamwork’s for the win when it comes to pushing a startup to scale. You won’t always manage to do everything alone. From logistics to admin to finance to marketing, you need someone, but they must be people with the same drive as you. They shouldn’t be a team that quits because they ‘don’t get paid enough’ or ‘the hours are too long’. It’s a startup for crying out loud, much work is demanded of everyone to scale to the next stage! You’re either in it or out the door. Make that clear on Day 1.
3. Image is everything
How do you look, apart from your own self, how does your product/service look in marketing material? Do you have a brand kit? Do you even know what a brand kit is? Get a graphic designer to create your logos, social media images, business cards and even product labels if need be so they look as professional as they can be. If money is an issue, try to go for simpler designs. Look good, both you and your product.
4. Do your market research
Yes your idea is brilliant but who’s buying (into) it? Find your target market and well, target them. Check out your competition as well, it’s pointless to give out what everyone else is giving unless you’re doing it better. Once you know who your consumers are, it will be easy for you to put your marketing strategy in place, both on and offline.
5. Take criticism positively
Not everyone will think your product is great and boy will they be quick to let you know! Keep calm and forge ahead. Take some of these criticisms as opportunities to learn from consumers about what they really need from your product/service. Don’t block the ‘haters’ because they might have something valuable to say. Consider it a free consultation.
6. Make some losses to make wins
You may have to part with some of your products/services for free as test trials for potential clients. Include this in your financial/expenditure plan. “You have to spend money to make money”. Unfortunately, that’s true. So be ready to cut some losses but if your product/service is that great, the returns might be ten-fold, or even stock market worthy.
7. Engage on social media
Social media has become the easiest marketing space online for many startups, especially those without office space. Respond to, ask, comment on, like and share content. Being active keeps you in the eye of both your existing clients and those you want to attract. With social media algorithms now putting the most engaging or relevant content forward, you need to make sure what you’re saying is heard loud and clear. Don’t be inconsistent. Don’t create a page that gets abandoned because an admin of the page left and someone else has to come in to create another company page. Set some rules about what kind of content you’ll post and share and how frequently it will be done..
8. Take care of your finances
Don’t mix personal bills with work bills, account for everything! If you take a potential partner for a drink, keep the receipt. This will help you keep track on how much you’re spending on business development meetings, transportation, electricity, airtime and other bills. KEEP EVERY RECEIPT. Don’t forget to make sure all your documents like your taxes are in order, lest you get fined for missing payment deadlines, or get shut down completely.
9. Don’t get too big-headed
If your startup advances and scales to unimaginable heights, don’t think you can’t now take questions or keep pitching your ideas. Nobody likes arrogance, and you could fall off the ladder just as quickly as you rose. Don’t stop putting in the same effort you put in at first, don’t slack on the quality you start out with. Don’t be another one of those businesses people will ask “What happened to those guys?” about.
10. Have fun
Remember, you’re bound to make a few mistakes, in the ‘beninging’ but enjoy the journey anyway.